Our plane landed at Washington Dulles International Airport on 6 December 2013 and people in the plane started clapping. I do not know if it is a common thing in a long flight or they did it because we landed safely despite a lot of turbulence. After the immigration check, we were officially in the US. It was cold outside the airport; the temperature was 10 °C as we waited at Curb 2 for our shuttle.
The pickup shuttle arrived. It took 10 minutes to reach our place of stay, Hyatt House Herndon. We checked in to our rooms or studio suites as they are called. We decided to rest for a while and then visit the nearby places. However, we slept like logs and it was too late to go out when we woke up. We ate maggie noodles for dinner at my kitchen.
We had a weekend before getting busy at the office and we had to make the best use of it. On Saturday morning, we geared up to beat the cold. Then we took a shuttle to Reston Town Center Transit Station, boarded a bus to West Falls Church Metro Station and took a metro to Washington, D.C. Once we were out of the Smithsonian Metro Station, our excitement was brought down by the freaking cold. Inspite of being prepared, our motor skills seemed to be crippled. It was difficult for us to talk. I felt immense pain in my toes. Instead of reading the maps, I observed the people around and kept wondering what American skin is made of! I guess it takes a while to get accustomed to such extreme cold and to be watching weather report each morning to plan the day ahead, not just to bring it up in small talks. 😏
After a while we were up for exploring the National Mall. Here are some of the pictures we shot along the way.
On Saturday evening, my uncle, Raju Mama as I call him, and cousin, Tanya, came over from Michigan. They were to show us around the next day. On Sunday morning, Tanya looked over the window and announced snow flurry. I felt joyous and hurried to witness my first snow. It was beautiful. 😊 I called up Susam and Devi, and asked them to look outside.
We had a quick breakfast at the Hyatt and headed to Washington, D.C., this time by road. It was warm and comfortable inside the car, not to forget how safe we felt on the road even as my uncle drove at around 100 kmph. We kept noticing everything that was around us: the snow, salt trucks, automated toll machines, interstate highways, traffic signals hanging above every lane, railway lines. Subconsciously, I was comparing all this to Bangalore and I felt how sparsely populated and well organized this part of the US is. We reached the National Mall. We jogged to a few museums and monuments that we had not visited the previous day.
We thoroughly enjoyed Hubble 3D at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at the National Air and Space Museum. 😊 Then we headed to the Tysons Corner Center and Best Buy, did some shopping and called it a day.
On Monday morning we headed to office. We took the shared shuttle provided by the hotel. Needless to say Americans are punctual and respect each other's time. We observed and learnt tipping etiquette. It took a while for us to actually start tipping. People in our shuttle got dropped off at their offices. We got down at ours. Unlike Bangalore office, bags did not go through security check and there were no security guards at the entrance. The cubicles were really tall. There was a kitchen on each floor. Along with coffee machines, there were a variety of soft drinks and beer bottles in the refrigerators. I did not catch sight of anyone browsing the web, checking personal email or spending time on social networking sites during the working hours. They all seemed deeply engrossed in work.
For the rest of the week we were at office from 9 AM to 5 PM. We spent the remaining time seeing around. We frequently visited the Reston Town Center, which was nearby, Best Buy, Target and Kohl's. We ate; we roamed; we shopped; 😊 disliked Walmart; window shopped at the Dulles Town Center.
The weekend arrived and we headed to the Tysons Corner Center. We shopped for nine hours straight; it was the first time for Susam. We were so busy with shopping that we lost two taxis we had booked to return to our hotel. Both taxis had arrived one after another and went back when they did not find us outside.
We shopped till we were asked to go out when the mall closed. There we were, the three of us, in the freezing night, with a flight to catch the next morning and no way to go back to the hotel. There was silence everywhere, not a single person around and we were already discussing how not to get mugged. No taxi service picked up our calls, probably because it was 11:30 PM and the weather was bad. We called up the hotel and they somehow managed to send us a taxi. We made it to our rooms and began packing. The next morning, we said good bye to the US, flew over the North Atlantic ocean to return home.